There's much to love about this creative collaboration between Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, a kinda sorta B-movie amped up more than enough to justify a limited nationwide arthouse release that arrives in Indianapolis on March 13th at Landmark's Keystone Art Cinema.
One can only hope the completely off-kilter horror/mockumentary of sorts catches on with Indy audiences, because this is a definite winner that deserves your attention.What We Do in the Shadows follows a group of vampires "flatting" together in Wellington, New Zealand, a choice explains Viago (Taika Waititi), that some vampires make to help evade the loneliness that can be derived from living for eternity. While it may sound like What We Do in the Shadows is destined to be nothing but a cheesy, one-note affair, the truth is quite the opposite. The film is a remarkably intelligent, cohesive, and at times rather poignant mockumentary that starts off with one laugh out loud scene introducing us to the film's key players in a most ingenious way and ends with a wonderfully inspired spiral of energy and fun.
In addition to Viago, who tends to speak to the camera and is the truly friendly one of the group, there's Vladislav (Clement), a medieval Count known as the Poker for reasons that will be revealed soon enough. Then, there's Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the group's bad boy and a former 19th-century peasant who doesn't take kindly to being nagged about washing five years worth of dishes, and finally there's "sweet" Petyr (Ben Fransham), a rather frightening creature who lives in the basement amongst spinal columns and rooster feathers and who doesn't often attend the called flat meetings.
While vampires, the quartet isn't exactly intimidating these days and their lives have sort of dissolved into a sea of rather boring mediocrity. Then, they accidentally turn Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) into a vampire and suddenly their, ahem, lives begin to change as his youthful energy and enthusiasm rubs off on them and they find themselves starting to experience a contemporary culture, including modern technology, that they didn't even knew existed.
At a mere 86 minutes, What We Do in the Shadows seemingly flies by with an abundant amount of laughs and such rich character development that it's hard to imagine anyone not being drawn into the film. There are times that What We Do in the Shadows looks and feels like the kind of film that Rogen, Franco, and friends are trying to create but can't ever manage to actually capture on film. Here, it works.
There's an undeniable spark and glee to the film that's a joy to watch, whether watching the vampires chase Gonzalez-Macuer around the room or a blood-barf scene that is markedly more funny because of the obvious chemistry between the characters. In fact, it's often true that scenes are better because of the chemistry between the characters.
What We Do in the Shadows isn't a perfect film, but it is a perfectly good piffle of a film. It's the kind of film in which you completely immerse yourself like a schoolboy (or girl) while watching it and then, in all likelihood, don't really retain the experience a day later.
That's okay, though. Sometimes, when you go to a movie you simply want to spend some time being mindlessly yet artfully entertained and this film does the trick.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic